Design Driven Testing – Half a Book Review

Lately, I’ve been reading “Design Driven Testing – Test Smarter, Not Harder”, a book by 2 blokes who don’t like TDD (I won’t name them). Before I start “reviewing” it, I should really point out that I only actually read half the book. I couldn’t finish it. It’s not like I forgot how to read, or someone stole the book from me, nothing like that. It’s just that I got really annoyed and frustrated at it, and I realised that I was actually stabbing myself in the leg with a fountain pen. So I decided to put the book down, apply a plaster to my leg, and retire to the drawing room with a large brandy and a copy of “Learn To Find Inner Peace” (I’ll review that at a later date)*

As you may have already realised, I didn’t really enjoy reading this book.

Now, I’m no TDD evangelist myself (I don’t even follow TDD in my daily work), but the way the authors construct their arguments against TDD and then try to “prove” DDT is better, is just really badly done. As I was reading it, I felt like I was being told that if I’m doing things the TDD way, then I’m a stupid infidel, because DDT is the One True God!

Their method of argument is also completely flawed. In one of the early examples of how “DDT is better than TDD” they show an example of how to do something the TDD way, and then how to do it in the DDT way. To start off, they get all pedantic with TDD, intentionally doing insufficient design, and testing absolutely bloody everything. Then, they go on to show you how to solve the same problem doing DDT, but, BUT here’s the thing, it’s CLEARLY not easier! It’s much, much harder and longer! Yet they still seem to go “there, you see, wasn’t that much better?” (Real answer: No).

The other things that got on my nerves were EA, which is some software that they use throughout, and the book often seems like a sales pitch for this piece of software. Then there’s their obsession with UML diagrams. Oh my God how many UML diagrams??? (Answer: too many). It’s unsurprising to learn that they actually wrote a book on UML as well. Then there’s ICONIX. they’re obsessed with it. And guess what, they wrote a book on that too. And while I’m on the subject of other books the authors have written, it’s worth pointing out that they have form when it comes to books whose main objective seems to be to complain about popular agile programming practices, because they also wrote a book called “Extreme Programming Refactored, the case against XP”.


Anyway, despite all of this, I do actually believe the concept of DDT is a good one; using testing to verify design. But I just found this book to be a vitriolic rant against Test-Driven Development. I think I would have preferred it much more if the authors had spent more time talking about DDT, and less time denigrating TDD. I don’t know, maybe there’s not enough content to fill a whole book there and so they had to add the anti-TDD stuff to pad it out, but I doubt it.

You will probably enjoy this book if you already hate TDD and would just like to read a book written by some people who agree with you.

* I didn’t stab myself in the leg, I don’t have a copy of “Learn to Find Inner Peace”, or for that matter, a drawing room. Also I don’t drink brandy. Unless you’re buying.


One comment

  1. Anonymous · December 14, 2012

    Its incredible how the majority of tech book “reviews” on the internet are positive yet the majority of tech books are rubbish.

    Thumbs up for a great insight.

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